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My Story and My Vision of China: Interview with Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, Dr. Michael Spence

(People's Daily Online)    13:48, April 30, 2019

As the oldest university in Australia, the University of Sydney now has nearly 70,000 international students from 136 countries and half of them are from China. Since 2005, the University of Sydney holds an annual Chinese graduation ceremony in China for students who are unable to attend the graduation ceremony in Sydney Australia.

As the Vice-Chancellor and the Principal of the University of Sydney, Dr. Michael Spence tries to join this ceremony in China whenever he can. “It’s a tremendous moment in a person's life when they graduate from a university degree. We want to celebrate it not only with the person who's graduating but also with their friends and family. We took the celebration to China so that more friends and family could come,” he said.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, Dr. Michael Spence

As an alumnus of the University of Sydney, Dr. Spence graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian and a Bachelor of Laws. Before leaving for the University of Oxford, he lectured in law at the university and worked for the Australian Copyright Council. In 2008, Dr. Spence was appointed the 25th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney.

Managing 67,000 students and 10, 000 teaching and administrative staffs is not easy. “My daily job has a lot of different parts. Partly it's like being the chief executive of a 2.4 billion dollar turnover organization but also a community of scholars in a university. And of course it's also a bit like being a high school headmaster and takes an active interest in our students,” Dr. Spence said.

When asked about how to balance family and work as a father of eight children, Dr. Spence told us, “The important thing is to focus on what you're doing when you're doing it. When you're at home, concentrating on your family and not being continually distracted. But similarly, making sure you get the job done in as efficient way as possible.”

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, Dr. Michael Spence shares his Chinese collections

As early as the 1960s, the University of Sydney has already started cooperation with universities China such Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Tsing University, where a whole range of partnerships involving dual degrees, joint research programs and exchange programs for teachers and students were set up. “Our partnerships with China are very old and very deep and they're sometimes very specialized. We as the institution publish over a thousand academic articles with Chinese co-authors a year and we have 250 staff who work on modern China,” he said. ”

Dr. Spence travels to China four to six times every year. In recent years, he also sends Chinese New Year greetings messages in Chinese to students, schoolfellow and partners through People’s Daily Online and Chinese social media platforms. “There's a whole variety of reasons that I learn Chinese, I've always been fascinated by Chinese history and culture, and it also was a practical thing for my work as well.”

Talking about the achievements of the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, Dr. Spence said, “Everybody is impressed by the incredible growth of the Chinese economy and by the remarkable achievement that there has been in China in lifting so many people out of poverty, and the incredible improvements in the Chinese standard of living. China has grown in its confidence and its engagement with the world.”

The University of Sydney campus

Dr. Spence thinks that China is now one of the largest producers of scientific research in the world and the University of Sydney are very proud of their current collaboration with Chinese universities.

“The Australia-China relationship is longstanding and very deep and it's like a family relationship. It's really important during times when there are pressures on the Australia-China relationship for the friends of China in Australia and for the friends of Australia in China to really keep reminding people of the strength and depth of the relationship,” he said. (People’s Daily Online / Jin Xie)

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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